WALLINGFORD — The Board of Education has signaled support for a plan to use expected surplus funds in the current budget to pre-purchase instructional supplies, such as textbooks and software, for next year.
The school administration is planning to set aside $400,000 of projected surplus money to buy the materials before the current fiscal year ends in June, which allows staff to submit purchase requests before they leave for summer break. The board’s Operations Committee came to a unanimous consensus to support the plan on Feb. 10. The consensus does not bind the board to approve the spending, but shows the administration that the proposal is on the right track.
“At this time of year we start looking at the unencumbered funds and we start looking at what can we start potentially planning to use those funds for...we looked at the forecast we’ve had for the last three to five years, we determined ‘OK this is a safe amount of money that we think we’re going to have,’” Menzo said.
While the average surplus over the past three years has been around $400,000, the monthly financial forecast prepared by Business Director Dominic Barone currently projects a surplus slightly above $600,000.
A total of $153,000 would go toward instructional supplies, $195,000 for textbooks, $24,000 for equipment and around $10,000 to $15,000 in professional services, along with numerous smaller categories.
Instruction supplies includes everything from software to hammers and bits for the technology education program.
“It’s instructional supplies and for curriculum it’s not consumable,” said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Carrie LaTorre. “It’s not paper, pens, markers; it’s level text, it’s text sets for social studies to use as a resource. It’s software to assist with our curriculum.”
Prepaying for the supplies has already been incorporated into Menzo’s $110.3 million budget request for the 2020-21 school year. Knowing some money will be available at the end of this year, Menzo said he’d rather create a more realistic budget than risk taxing residents more than necessary.
“That would be double budgeting, so it would be inflating the bottom line for next year, artificially, potentially taxing people for money we don’t need to spend,” he said.
Should the surplus turn out to be smaller than projected, Menzo said the district’s curriculum staff will work to revise their equipment purchases next year. All of the proposed items to be covered by surplus funds were originally requested for funding in next year’s budget.